04 Oct 2022

New programme to tackle sexual harassment in Irish colleges

New programme to tackle sexual harassment in Irish colleges

The Bystander Intervention programme originates from University College Cork

A programme made by a team at University College Cork’s (UCC) will now be used teach students around the country how to intervene in cases of sexual harassment. 

The Bystander Intervention programme, which consists of a series of audio-visual learning materials, will be provided to Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) in order to build a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment on various university and college campuses throughout Ireland.

The programme was first created in 2019 and is led by Professor Louise Crowley of the university's School of Law.

Topics that will be discussed in the programme include consent, the bystander concept and how to safely recognise and intervene in instances of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Two graduates from UCC, Maeve McTaggart and Alana Daly-Mulligan, also use clips from the popular but controversial ITV show Love Island (UK) to showcase to others signs of toxic behaviour in romantic relationships as part of the programme.

Speaking on the initiative, Professor Crowley told The Irish Examiner about how the Bystander Intervention programme can help students, as she believes that college life can be challenging and can make it hard for many students to speak up against sexual harassment.

She said about the benefits of the programme: "In the course of the training, participants are encouraged to recognise their discomfort at sexually offensive language and actions, and through active workshops are empowered to call out what might otherwise be perceived as normalised student conduct, shattering any false consensus that such language and actions might ever be acceptable." 

Last year, findings from the Sexual Experiences Survey showed that over half of first year students had been sexually harassed since starting at university, with the same survey claiming that many experiences have gone unreported.

In addition, the Survey, which was carried out by NUI Galway's Active Consent Programme and involved 6,000 students, also reported that 62% of second-year students and 66% of students in their third year or higher reporting sexual harassment.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact the Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) by visiting, emailing the RCC at or by ringing its national helpline at 1 800 77 8888. 

Additionally, you can call Samaritans Ireland at 116 123 or email

Help is always at hand and there is always someone available to listen.

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